Military Issues

Foreign Affairs

posted by Stephen Guffanti MD  May 6, 2013

Our government was established to do 6 things and “provide for the common defense” is one of them. Washington set out our foreign policy in his Farewell Address.

Washington’s Farewell Address

“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.”

The Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine extended Washington’s non-entanglement policy to keeping the Europeans out of the Americas in essence no reconquering former colonies.

78 years later Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy: “speak softly, and carry a big stick was a huge divergence from the Washington – Monroe position. His big stick was used to open the Panama Canal and trade with Japan. When Congress disagreed with this huge departure from tradition they threatened Roosevelt with cutting off funds. Roosevelt responded by sending the navy to Panama and informing Congress that it would be stranded there if the funds were cut off.

Over 100 years later, in Obama’s state of the union address he mentioned foreign policy once. In essence, we do war is our foreign policy and has been since FDR.

If we are to have an effective foreign policy there must be a better balance between the President and Congress. Unfortunately, our national “debt is the biggest threat to U.S. national security, according to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

I would recommend this new balance start with a balanced budget, which means we must first have a budget. The Senate needs to pass one and then compromise with the House on the details. It has been 4 years since the Senate had a budget. It is clearly easier to stand for nothing than to make hard decisions.